what is smart dns

Streaming services like Netflix have different content libraries and you may not be able to access its US library if you are in a different country like the UK or India. The same applies to other countries and other streaming services, as well. This is due to complex licensing and geo-blocking prevents people from accessing their favorite content while they travel abroad.

Though there are restrictions, there is also a way to bypass such restrictions and access blocked content. If you are looking to access streaming services or websites that are blocked in your country but available in another, you will need to change your virtual location. You can do so using a smart DNS service that will let you change your virtual location.

Smart DNS is quite similar to VPNs, but it will not encrypt your connection and is not as secure as VPN services. Likewise, they may not be able to unblock all geo-restricted content. Smart DNS services are offered by popular VPN services like ExpressVPN and NordVPN. This article explains how Smart DNS will let you unblock geo-restricted content and how it differs from VPNs.

For people looking to unblock geo-restricted streaming services, Smart DNS can be a good alternative to proxies and VPNs. That is because they can use Smart DNS to unblock blocked content where VPNs cannot be used.

Though Smart DNS can be used to unblock a geo-restricted website or a streaming service, you cannot use it like a VPN. That is because a VPN does not only let you unblock blocked streaming services and games but will also encrypt your internet connection and make you completely anonymous online. Despite being used to unblock geo-restricted content, Smart DNS may not be able to bypass geo-restrictions of popular streaming services like Netflix. Comparatively, VPNs are much better than Smart DNS, but then Smart DNS will come in handy in places where a VPN cannot be used.

Smart DNS – Uses

A service quite similar to a VPN, Smart DNS will let you watch TV shows and movies that are unavailable in your country.

Smart DNS Vs. VPN – Which is Better

We recommend VPN services over Smart DNS. Though you can use Smart DNS to stream content unavailable in your region, your connection may not be secure. On the other hand, a VPN will secure your connection, mask your IP address, and make sure no third party can see what you are doing online.

SmartDNS and VPNs – Differences

Smart DNS does the work of a proxy server and of a DNS server together. Smart DNS replaces your device’s domain name system (DNS) with a DNS address that will not reveal your real location. You will be able to choose a location of your choice from the list of servers in certain countries. When you use Smart DNS, it will not hide your device’s IP address and encrypt your connection like a VPN does, but will let you access certain geo-restricted streaming services by spoofing your location.

Smart DNS may not slow down your connection, but your IP address will not be changed. Likewise, your connection will not be encrypted. This may not be the case with a VPN, as a VPN will encrypt your connection and also assign you a new IP address. It will also change your virtual location. With a VPN, you can securely and anonymously access all your favorite content.

VPNs that Offer SmartDNS

Popular VPN services like NordVPN, Surfshark VPN, and ExpressVPN offer Smart DNS.

  • NordVPN
  • Express VPN
  • Surfshark


One of the top-rated VPN services, NordVPN, offers a smart DNS service that will let your device access geo-blocked content. ABC Go (US region), Amazon Prime (US region), Disney Plus (US region), Fox Now / Sports Go / News / Showtime (US region), HBO Now (US region), and Netflix Originals are among the Smart DNS supported streaming services. You can use NordVPN Smart DNS to access one of these streaming services.

It has servers in over 80 locations to unblock the above-mentioned streaming services. NordVPN is a perfect choice for complete online privacy and anonymity. Likewise, when it comes to server count, it has one of the largest server networks, with over 5000 servers across the globe.

Using NordVPN and its Smart DNS, you can bypass tough geo-restrictions, including that of Netflix. NordVPN’s Smart DNS feature is called SmartPlay. This feature is designed to unblock all the streaming services mentioned above. However, with NordVPN Smart DNS, you can only unblock streaming services in the US.

  • 5200+ servers in 62 countries
  • Use up to 6 devices
  • Next-generation Encryption
  • Double VPN Feature
  • Strict no-logs policy

NordVPN’s subscription comes with security features like kill switch, split tunneling, ad and malware blocker, etc., in addition to Smart DNS and you need not subscribe separately to use this service. All you need to do is subscribe to NordVPN to use all its features, including its SmartPlay feature. It offers monthly, yearly, and half-yearly subscription plans. However, you can use its money-back guarantee to give its features a try before subscribing to a long-term plan.

If you would like to know more about the features of NordVPN, take a look at our extensive review of NordVPN.


A speedy and reliable VPN service, ExpressVPN offers its users access to thousands of servers worldwide. All its servers are optimized for HD streaming and this is one of the fastest VPN services and an excellent choice for streaming.

ExpressVPN’s premium plans come with the Smart DNS feature, in addition to other security features like a kill switch, 256-bit encryption, split tunneling, IP leak protection, etc. When you subscribe to ExpressVPN, you can use its Smart DNS feature for free.

MediaStreamer is the Smart DNS feature of ExpressVPN and you can use this feature to access blocked streaming services on devices that natively do not support VPNs. You can use MediaStreamer to access geo-blocked streaming services like Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Netflix, etc. Using ExpressVPN’s Smart DNS, you can unblock popular streaming content available in the UK and US.

expressvpn logo
  • 160 server locations
  • Network Lock kill switch
  • Zero-knowledge DNS
  • VPN split tunneling
  • Stream Sports online

This MediaStreamer feature is a part of ExpressVPN’s monthly, half-yearly, and yearly plans. In addition, you can torrent securely with this VPN, as ExpressVPN is a P2P-friendly VPN service. Most of all, ExpressVPN’s apps come packed with security features like DNS leak protection, split tunneling, network lock kill switch, and more.

You can try ExpressVPN with its money-back guarantee or read more in our in-depth ExpressVPN review.

Surfshark VPN

Surfshark VPN, one of the most affordable VPN services, offers Smart DNS services for free with its premium subscription plans. When you subscribe to Surfshark VPN, you can use its VPN services and its Smart DNS service, as well.

This VPN is popular among VPN users across the world, as it is a truly unlimited VPN that offers unlimited bandwidth and allows unlimited concurrent device connections, as well. You can set up the VPN on any device you own, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Fire TV, Linux, routers, and more.

Using its Smart DNS features, you can unblock a lot of streaming channels on your favorite devices, including Apple TV, Xbox, Samsung Smart TV, and more. You can use Smart DNS to access your favorite content on devices that do not support VPNs. You can use Surfshark VPN’s Smart DNS services to access US region content like Hulu, etc.

  • Connect unlimited Devices
  • AES-256-GCM encryption
  • IP & DNS leak protection
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Free Browser Extensions
  • Strict no-logs policy

Surfshark VPN is an excellent choice for unlimited browsing, torrenting, gaming, and streaming. As it also comes with security features like DNS leak protection, kill switch, malware blocker, 256-bit encryption, split tunneling, etc., you can remain secure and anonymous online.

There is a 30-day money-back guarantee to test its services. To know more about its features, read our extensive Surfshark VPN review.


SmartDNS will come in handy in places where you cannot use a VPN. You can use this service to unblock a lot of popular streaming services, but your connection may not be encrypted. Though Smart DNS is similar to VPN, it does not offer all the features VPN services offer, like encryption. We hope this article helped you understand what Smart DNS is.